Travel Gear

Travel Essentials For Families

Toddler in a portable high chair eating a lemon. Travel essentials for families
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Must-have travel essentials for families with kids. Wondering what to bring when traveling with a toddler? Here’s my list of the best travel items for toddlers that we don’t leave home without. 

These are our travel must-haves for toddlers that work best for my family and I hope they work for yours as well. But remember, it’s all trial and error and you’ll learn what works for road trips, flights, or riding on a train.

Toddler Essentials List

  • Inflatable bathtub
  • Reusable bib
  • Backpack
  • Non-leak cup
  • Snacks/food
  • Car seat
  • Compact stroller
  • Portable high chair
  • Headphones
  • PJs
  • Portable crib
  • Baby carrier
  • A light blanket
  • First-aid kit/medicine bag
  • Packing cubes
  • Extra clothes
  • Favorite toys

Toddler Travel Essentials

Inflatable tub– Munchkin Inflatable Duck is a fun and easy inflatable tub to travel with. We used this regularly while at home and since it’s super easy to blow up and deflate; we had no issue bringing it along.

It takes up a small amount of space and it’s lightweight.

Travel Crib & Travel Bed For Toddlers- Travel Essentials For Families

Babybjorn Travel Crib- The Baby Bjorn travel crib is such a breeze to use, lightweight, easy to bring along in airports, driving, or taking a train from city to city. You simply pop each leg in place and you’re done!

The crib comes with a carrying bag and mattress.  The sheet for the mattress is sold separately.

Hiccapop Toddler Travel BedEverything you need comes with the toddler travel bed, including the pump to inflate and deflate. The bed bumpers are higher than most, which are comforting for safety.

It’s easy to deflate and take on the go, but personally, I would only bring this along if I am driving to my destination.

Packing Cubes For Toddlers- Some great travel essentials for families are packing cubes because most come as a set of 5, which means there will be one for everybody.

I pack my son’s items in the largest cube. Depending on how long we are staying at our destination, the largest cube can hold all of his items except bulky sneakers. 

You can see my Calpak packing cubes hereCompression packing cubes are also a great option.

Portable High Chair For Travel- A portable high chair is a necessary travel essential for toddlers. Depending on where you are traveling high chairs may not be an option. Traveling with the Inglesina Fast portable high chair made a world of difference.  

We never worried whether a restaurant had high chairs and it is great to have if you forget to make reservations at a restaurant and a smaller booth is available. No need to wait for a table. It makes the perfect portable high chair for restaurants. 

The Inglesina weighs 4.2 lbs, so not heavy at all. We put this in our checked luggage. There’s also a tray which can be purchased separately. We didn’t use our tray often. We used placemats primarily. The tray snaps on easily and is easy to clean. 

A toddler at a restaurant in portable high chair.
Inglesina portable high chair at Zenith Brunch & Cocktails Lisboa.

Related: Inglesina Fast Table Review

First Aid Kits Or home medicine kits are essential for traveling. I put my home medicine kit together using a packing cube. Prior to traveling, especially international travel, always talk with your child’s pediatrician. If need be, they will let you know what else you should bring.

Travel. State. Gov will also provide you with a lot of useful travel information for U.S. citizens.

Travel Gear For Toddlers

Baby Carrier–When thinking about traveling essentials, a baby carrier is an absolute, especially if you are traveling alone with kids. It’s definitely a travel essential for families. Carries are the best way to navigate airports hands-free. There are a lot of things going on at once until you make it to the gate.

Infantino Convertible Carrier- The Infantino carrier is a good option when you are starting. It’s soft, lightweight, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. We started with this carrier. Can be used for front and back carrier, with newborns to toddlers weighing 8 lbs -32 lbs.

Ergobaby Omni 360– The Ergobaby is the best baby carrier overall and probably one of the best baby carriers for dad. It’s much more sturdy, and it’s an all-position baby carrier. It can be worn inward, front-outward, hip, and back carry.

Carriers are toddler necessities for all types of travel, especially when you prefer to leave the stroller behind.

Travel Car Seats For Toddlers- I promise you when travel you want your travel gear for kids to be light and safe. It makes a world of difference when lugging all the gear you need around.

Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat- Instead of traveling on flights with our heavier, more expensive convertible car seat, we bring the Cosco Scenera.  

It is lightweight and easier to manage. Also, it’s a good option considering car seats can get damaged on your travels. I would rather a cheaper car seat used only for travel getting damaged over our more expensive day-to-day car seat.  

The Cosco Scenera is exclusive to Walmart, so you will only find it there.

  • Rear-facing 5-40 lbs and 19-40 inches.
  • Forward-facing 22-40 lbs and 
  • 5 Point harness.

Evenflo Tribute LX- Another good option for your toddler travel gear is the Evenflo. The Evenflo also can be used rear-facing and forward-facing and also has a 5-point harness.

Some car rentals have car seats available but it is best to bring your own considering you may not be ok with the condition you find it in.

CARES Child Safety Device- If you prefer not to bring your child’s car seat on the plane, the CARES harness is the next best option. Out of all the toddler air travel accessories, this one provides safety if you decide not to bring the car seat. The harness is FAA-approved for airplanes ONLY!

For children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds.

Britax Travel Cart- The Britax travel cart is a must-have for flying with toddlers. You need this when traveling through airports with car seats!  

It is incredibly easy to latch your car seat onto the cart, strap your child in the car seat, and navigate the airport. It folds, so it’s easy to stow away. For us, this is essential when traveling.

Uppababy MinuWe are HUGE Uppababy fans! A compact stroller is a must-have travel item for toddlers. It is a lifesaver whether you are exploring your city, taking a domestic or an international flight. Joakim and I took a trip (his very first flight) to New York, and I did not know how I would navigate it all. 

But I had Joakim in a carrier, backpack on, and carried the stroller with the shoulder strap. Yup, it has a shoulder strap. It was a breeze. The Minu is lightweight and folds with one hand. On some of our flights, it fit in the overhead bin.

Toddler at the airport in Uppababy Minu stroller.
First international flight! The Minu.

For some parents, they may not want to use a stroller for older toddlers, but personally, it’s nice to have one for them to take a nap in when you’re out exploring.

The Minu, along with the Jet, are some of the best travel strollers for toddlers.

Other travel necessities for toddlers you may need are a Footmuff for warmth and a rain shield for your stroller. The Minu rain cover is here.

I am not sure how we forgot our rain cover on a trip to Rome, but there we were with plastic raincoats all over our stroller to keep our son and the stroller dry. LOL.

Minu stroller in the rain.

Stroller & Car Seat Tips-

  1. On most airlines, strollers and child car seats are not counted as part of the standard baggage allowance. You can check these toddler travel necessities for free.
  2. You can check your toddler airplane travel gear (stroller & car seat) curbside, ticket counter, or at the gate.
  3. When using an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved child seat, a ticket for your child has to be purchased to have a reserved seat.
  4. You must purchase a ticket also if :

-2 years old or older

-International flights

  1. 0-2 Years old

-May travel in the lap of an adult.

-Usually free domestically.

-A fee for international flights.

Can you take a stroller and car seat on a plane? Every airline’s rules and policies are different, so be sure to check, but yes, some airlines allow you to board with both. With the Minu, we could board with both and place the Minu in an overhead bin.

Other airlines required us to have it tagged and checked at the gate. It wasn’t equal across the board because of the actual size of the overhead bin and/or the airline’s policy. Be sure to check!

But note it has to be a compact foldable stroller that meets the airline’s guidelines.

Here’s United Airlines policy, currently the GB Pockit, BabyJoy Pocket, and the Jet Stroller (mentioned above) are approved to be placed in the overhead bin.

Travel Backpack For Mom- In the beginning, I used a luxury bag as a diaper bag. I quickly learned this was not exactly the way to go when traveling with a toddler. A backpack is a hands-free game changer and must-have travel essentials for families.  

The Honest City Backpack has a ton of compartments and lots of pockets to store everything you need when on the go. Not to mention it has a sleek look!

Does a diaper bag count as a carry-on? If you are traveling with a child, you can bring a diaper bag in addition to your carry-on.

Toddler Carry On Packing List

  • Face mask
  • Pacifier if needed
  • (1) wet bag
  • Snacks
  • Snack containers
  • Leak-free cups
  • Placemats
  • Extra clothes
  • Diapers
  • Wipes- both baby wipes and disinfection wipes.
  • Headphones
  • Earmuffs
  • Toys & activity books
  • Tablet
  • A light blanket
  •  Band-aides 

Carry On For Toddlers- If your toddler can carry or pull their bags, having their carry-on is a good idea for them to carry all the travel stuff kids need.

State Bag Backpack- STATE bag backpacks are the coolest and the cutest backpacks for kids. This one is exclusive to Target, which means they are a little less expensive than regular STATE bags.

  • Water-resistant
  • Chest strap
  • Pockets for a water bottle.
  • Inside pockets

Rolling Luggage- Rolling luggage is another great one to help with independence for the little ones to pull their luggage through the airport like their parents. With Stephen Joseph, you should be able to get everything they need inside.

Baby wipes & Disinfection wipes- Bring along lots of baby wipes and extra disinfection wipes.

What To Bring When Flying With A Toddler

Face mask- Face masks are recommended for everyone 2 years and older indoors. Throw a few extras in your little ones’ luggage.

Pacifier- If your little one is still using a pacifier, don’t forget to bring it along with a few extras.

Wet-Dry Bags–  Wet-dry bags will hold in any smells and leakage. If your kid’s clothes get soiled while out, just toss them in your wet-dry bag and carry on. These are much-needed travel essentials for kids.

We were once a cloth diaper family and quickly discovered how genius these bags are. We now take them on all travel adventures, even local ones.  

Going swimming on your next trip? Toss your kid’s swim clothes in a wet-dry bag once done.

Leak-Free Sippy Cups For Toddlers- Re Play sippy cups are great for a variety of liquids. From breast milk, and juice to whole milk. I recommend these cups to just about everyone because they are so durable and spill-proof. There’s a silicone valve that is placed on the lid which prevents leakage.

Dr. Brown’s 360 Cups For Toddlers- Dr. Brown’s set is also durable and leak-free. They come as a set of 2, the same as RePlay. The wonderful thing about these is there is no spout. Your toddler can drink from any section of the sippy cup.

Placemats- We bring placemats for the tray table on the airplane and to use at restaurants. There are different designs for these but my son has the race tracks and likes to use these at home as well when playing with his Hot Wheels.

Extra Clothes- Always pack an extra outfit or two and extra underwear in your toddler’s carry-on, especially if you’re going through the potty training phase. If you are wondering what a toddler should wear on a plane, we almost always dress our son in pajamas. We love the two-piece sets from Gap.

If we can book a redeye flight, we do because he will sleep most of the flight.

We primarily pack two-piece outfits for our toddler when traveling for ease. Even when he was a baby. Some of our favorite places if he needs a few new items before departure are Cat & Jack, Old Navy, and Gap.

Diapers- My preference is to take up a little extra space and bring diapers. A few in the carry-on and the rest in the checked suitcase. Some people prefer to purchase diapers at their destination instead if they are flying.

Toddler Headphones For Travel- No matter where you are headed, traveling headphones are great travel accessories for kids. The Noot are perfect because they are foldable and can easily be stored without taking up too much space.

The ear cups are nice and soft for kids’ little ears and the headband is adjustable so you can easily get to the right fit.

Amazon fire and headphones are travel essentials for toddlers.

Wireless Toddler Headphones- If you are looking for toddler headphones that are wireless, the Gorsun are Bluetooth kids’ headphones with volume control.

  • 12 hours of play before needing to charge.
  • Microphone
  • Foldable
  • Adjustable headband.

Ear Protection For Toddlers- I highly recommend Banz headphones for babies and toddlers. We purchased these for Joakim’s first flight to New York to help with ear pressure. I have also tried them on myself, testing out noise reduction and they worked like a charm! 

We take them on all flights, use them for the start of fireworks, and for other loud noises, we think he needs them for. For us, these are essential for traveling with a toddler.

-Recommended for ages 3 months – 2 years old.

Mom and toddler at airport.  Toddler wearing blue Banz headphones.

A light blanket- It feels like one has to pack their entire house when traveling with kids, but I’m a fan of bringing along a personal blanket for them.

Band-Aids- Throw a few band-aids in the carry-on just in case.

Travel Snacks For Toddlers

Stasher Silicone Reusable Bags- Stasher bags are one of our favorite items to carry snacks because of the sturdiness of the bag and the amount of food that can be carried in each bag.  

They also have a tight seal, so I don’t worry about anything leaking or falling out. The sizes available are ½ gallon bags, sandwich bags, snack bags, and stand-up bags.

You can place Stashers in the oven, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.

Stackable Snack Packs- Another favorite of ours are Stackable snack cups. We love these because they are snack cups with lids for toddlers and you can get creative and put a complete meal in here for your toddler on the go if you need to.

The top has a handle to carry, and each individual stacker has a lid. Our travel snack cup sizes are (1) ⅓ cup, (2) 1 cup snack containers.

Stackable containers with food.
Stackable containers

They have a variety of designs like Batman, Harry Potter, and Skating Unicorn, to name a few.

Toddler Bibs For Eating- Silicone bibs! Silicone bibs are by far the best bibs for toddlers because they are super easy to clean and pretty close to indestructible. My top choice is Bella Tunno.

You only need one to take on your travels. These come with a pocket for food to fall right into and cute statements on the front that will make you chuckle.

Toddler at a restaurant wearing a Bella Tunno bib.

Toddler Snack Ideas-

  • Homemade applesauce
  • Blueberries, strawberries, apple slices
  • Granola
  • Chopped cooked salmon, turkey, or chicken
  • Blueberry muffins
  • Larabaras
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Mini sandwich buns ( I can fit 3-4 of these in a Stasher).
  • Granola
  • Justin’s single pack peanut butter

Toddler Activities For Airplane And Car Rides

It can be nerve-wracking thinking about how long flights or car rides with a toddler will go. Especially if it’s the very first trip for your little one. You just don’t know what to expect.  

Here are a few options to keep your little one busy while they are busy.

Melissa & Doug Sticker Activity Book

Mini Sketch Pad & Crayons- Let their imagination run wild with a pad and crayons.

Water Reveal Safari, Farm And Under The Sea Pads

Busy Box- Busy boxes are full of arts and crafts activities to keep kids busy for hours. My son loves this busy box. You can see one of ours here.

The box comes with colorful plastic eggs that are filled with instructions to build, color, and make a variety of items. Those same eggs were also great to review colors and practicing counting.

We played Go Fish and made puppets, along with other fun activities. There are a lot of options to choose from. Here are a few:

Baby Busy Kit (10- 18 months)

Toddler Busy Kit (18-36 months)

Airplane Busy Kit (3-8 years old )

Road Trip Busy Kit

Camping Busy Box

Kids Tablet- The Amazon Fire 7 kids tablet is the best toddler tablet out there. The Amazon Fire comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ with the ability to stream via Wi-Fi or things you’ve downloaded.  

What’s cool is that you can do a combination of games, videos, and books in Spanish and English. If you don’t mind a little screen time, this is a good educational toddler travel accessory.

If you are a parent, that is not a big fan of screen time, you can set your preferences for the time your child uses the tablet on weekdays and weekends.

When times up, it will say, “All done for today!”. You can also set the time your child spends doing educational stuff before they can play with apps. 

Some of our favorite travel cartoons are Super Wings, Wild Kratts, Sesame Street, and Space Ranger Roger. 

And if you are wondering how to survive a road trip with family, you can check out 6 Tips To Survive A Road Trip With A Toddler.


Haakaa & Storage Bags- When thinking about travel essentials for kids, extra storage bags for your milk should be at the top of the list if you are still nursing. I would also throw in a Haakaa pump.  

I breastfed my son for 24 months and never went on a trip without these 2 items. For the just in case.

TSA policy for breastmilk, formula, and juice.

Major U. S. airlines policies on traveling with kids. When creating your travel essentials for families master list these are good policies to get familiar with.

Delta Airlines

American Airlines

Jet Blue Airlines

I listed United Airlines above.

Everything on this list should cover travel equipment for 1-5-year-olds. I hope you find these travel essentials for families useful and if you need travel essentials for baby, head over to Baby Gifts For Traveling Parents. Enjoy!

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  • Stephanie
    July 27, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    I just added those wet/dry bags to my amazon cart! I needed to know about those years ago 🥴

    • Mo
      July 28, 2020 at 10:24 am

      I love it! 🙂 They are so useful for any age.

  • Tyre Reese
    July 28, 2020 at 5:56 am

    This is a very good list and everything on it made our traveling so much easier for us. I still have to get use to the carrier. Lol! Great and informational post of travel must haves!!

    • Mo
      July 28, 2020 at 10:25 am

      Thank You!


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